Find Creative Commons licensed images

You have got the text. Now you need a photo accompanying the text and you will need one, which you are permittet to use. Everything about photo-search on Flickr and in Wikimedia Commons.

As we don't want to infringe copyright and want to avoid cease and desist warnings for adding an image from the internet into our article, we will have to consider some aspects when searching for photos. Most important: Never ever use a photo if the rights and permissions are unclear. All photos published on hbs-websites have to be fitted with a license, name of photographer and (if you haven't bought it or acquired by an agency for a certain time) a link to the image.

Happily, on the internet thera are some sites, where you can find free good images. These images will always have to be Creative Commons-licensed (if you have little understanding what this means, please read our Introdution into Creative Commons first).

Most often, we will search for photos (and also find photos) on Many people all over the world upload their photos on this site - and a lot of them allow other people to use these photos and  provide them with a Creative Commons license.

On the top right you can enter search terms and click "Enter":

You will now see  a lot of nice windwheels. Unfortunately, we can use only those with a Creative Commons license. In order to hide all the rest, choose All creative commons from the Any license menu on the top left (all "All rights reserved" licensed photos will automatically be hidden).

In most cases, the images will not be as nice as before anymore. If you haven't found a suitable one at first glance, you can rearrange them. By default, they are arranged by relevance. "Interesting" shows the photos which had been liked by other users. Very often, this will be the best. "Date uploaded" shows those images uploaded a short time ago. This will help, when you search for up-to-date photos.

If you have searched in your native language first, it may be helpful to repeat the search in English. In my example, I wanted to find windwheels in the U. S. That's why I entered "windmills united states" and then rearranged by  "Interesting". Isn't it a nice windwheel park? Now click on the photo!

You will now see the photo in big, the photographer's name and terms of use. If you click on "Some rights reserved" under the image on the right, you will see the terms of use.

(Tip for professionals who are already familiar with licenses: When you hover over the "Some rights reserved" information, you can already see the license in the URL-preview at the very botton of your browser, in this case

In this case it is the license CC BY-NC. That means: You are allowed to use and adapt the work as long as it is not for commercial reasons. As we are a non-commercial foundation, we are allowed to use it.

In principle, we can use all licenses. Only the ND-license, which doesn't allow for derrivatives, may be complicated: As we need the image with an aspect ratio of 3:2 we will not be allowed to crop it. That means, if images licensed CC BY-ND or CC BY-NC-ND are not originally 3:2, we must not use them.

Everything is alright regarding our windmill park so that we can download the photo. If you click on the arch in the lower right hand corner of the image, you will see the available image sizes:

To meet the requirements of our system, the images have to be at least 630 pixles wide, todays Retina-displays use scarcely 2.000. That means "Large" would be perfect here. When you click on "View all sizes" you will see even more available sizes. 1.600 pixels will be fine, too, 1.024 would be okay - but please use smaller sizes only if there's is no other way. And also be careful with photos which are too big. Although our system downsamples photos depending on their original format but you shouldn't exceed 2.500 pixels as they may easiely reach 10 MB of size or more.

Now right-click on the correct size and download the photo by  "Save destination as" on your computer. If you have choosen View all sizes and have picked the correct size you can just right-click somewhere on the photo and save it.

It is best to save the photo on the desktop as from there you can easily crop and enter it into the article. Anyway, leave the browser with the flickr-tab open as you will have to provide URL, license and photographer's name in our system. If you don't know how to do it, see our How-To on images. Did it!


Another site where you can find Creative Commons images is As on Flickr, I can also enter the search term/s on the top right here. Only Creative Commons-images will be shown. When you click on one of them, you will get a similar view as in Flickr. In the left hand corner, you will see, who took the photo. When you then click on the small arch next to "Download original file", you will get the available sizes.

Now left-click on the desired size and then on "View in browser" to see it on the screen and then download it by right-clicking on "Save image as".

Also very helpful: Under each Wikipedia-article you will find a link to the Wikimedia Commons in "Weblinks" (in this case "Commons: Klopotec"). There, all media will be listed which have been used in this wikipedia-article and can be downloaded and used with the respective links.

So, if you detect a  nice photo on Wikipedia, this is where it can be found!

So have a great time finding images!

Do not dispair: Depending on the topic, the photo-search can take a while. Try different search terms (singular and plural), in German, English or other languages - the more specific - the better! More tips on how to find photos you will also find in our editorial How-to write a good article.